US to defend Trump’s Paris pact pullout at UN climate talks

Bonn, Nov 16: An American official will address the UN climate meeting in Bonn, where envoys have battled to make progress in the shadow of President Donald Trump’s rejection of a global action plan.
On the penultimate day of the annual climate huddle, most countries will be represented by heads of state or cabinet ministers at a “high-level segment”, but Washington sent an acting assistant secretary of state, Judith Garber.
She replaces Thomas Shannon, number three at the State Department, who pulled out because of a “family emergency”.
Garber will address delegates in the afternoon, just three days after White House officials drew the ire of conference-goers by hosting a sideline event defending the use of fossil fuels at a forum focused on reducing planet-warming emissions from burning coal, oil and gas.
“It will be very interesting to see both the content and the tone” of Thursday’s speech,” said Alden Meyer of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
Naomi Ages, a Greenpeace climate campaigner, said Garber would “likely reiterate Trump’s decision to withdraw, or try to bargain for better terms.”
Announcing Garber’s participation, the State Department emphasised that the Trump administration’s position on the climate-rescue Paris Agreement “remains unchanged”.
“The United States intends to withdraw from the Paris Agreement as soon as it is eligible to do so, unless the president can identify terms for engagement that are more favourable to American businesses, workers, and taxpayers,” it said in a statement.
The United States ratified the hard-fought global pact, championed by former president Barack Obama, just two months before Donald Trump, who has called climate change a “hoax”, was elected to the White House.
Trump announced in June that America would abandon the pact, but the rules prescribe this cannot happen until November 2020.
The US, the State Department said, “is participating in ongoing negotiations… in order to ensure a level playing field that benefits and protects US interests.”